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Book scrutiny: is this really a tool for support or monitoring?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Jan 17, 2019.

  1. mistermanager

    mistermanager New commenter

    Exactly... senior managers are simply not qualified to make any forms of judgements on such things. The best marking is tailored and does not follow any form of 'policy' anyway! Excellent feedback is a fluid, non tangible thing... 'Who trained the trainers' comes to mind
    yodaami2 and schoolsout4summer like this.
  2. bessiesmith

    bessiesmith Occasional commenter

    My A-level Maths folders would have made a teacher cry! Just a jumble of seemingly random letters and numbers, full of crossings out, graffiti and scribbles. Mostly all self-marked in class. (Since they were mostly about proving something was true then it was fairly obvious when you got it right). Virtually no written feedback from any teacher. (But masses of verbal feedback in the lessons).

    I was very proud to get 'A's for both further pure and applied. Not because I was particularly gifted but reasonably bright with excellent teachers. What mattered was that I was gradually gaining an understanding in my head of the concepts. That really is the ONLY thing that matters.
  3. mistermanager

    mistermanager New commenter

    This just proves how pointless the majority of written feedback is! In my subject, students perform far better with minimal or even (shock/horror) no written feedback at all. Most such feedback is superfluous and only there to provide 'evidence'...
  4. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    Bit puzzled.

    simonCOAL, are you saying that marking policies serve an actual educational purpose?
    SEBREGIS, are you saying that we SHOULD be following marking policies for educational reasons?

    I am genuinely interested to hear from someone who defends the marking policies which I see as pointless.
  5. simonCOAL

    simonCOAL Occasional commenter

    Just saying that I’ve never worked in a place with a marking policy that is *****.
    They’ve always been fairly low-key and not imposed with a sledgehammer.

    We’ve stuck to a system that has broad guidelines that allow autonomy whilst having a generally understood framework (so the children know where they stand)
    We’ve always looked on from the side and raised an eyebrow at the multi coloured pen tribes.

    Not defending anything. But a reasonable policy helps avoid 85 teachers marking in 85 different ways.

    Often it’s not the policy but the way it is enforced, that causes the problems.
  6. Christopher  Curtis

    Christopher Curtis Occasional commenter

    I’ve never been in a school that had book scrutinies, or a marking policy, or learning walks, or lesson observations, or a “senior management team”, or a “senior leadership team”, or an OFSTED – but I’m in Australia. I don’t know how many teachers in England realise just how weird their education system is. I have been in a school with books, but most have the far more efficient loose-leaf folders. No, I have never been in a school with loose-leaf folders scrutinies either.
  7. ajrowing

    ajrowing Lead commenter

    My school has just started to do book scrutinies, but strangely no one can tell me what they are trying to find out. Keeps people in employment I suppose.
    agathamorse likes this.
  8. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    Having worked in well over 100 different Primary schools in the last 4 years I was going to take you to task, then I read that you are in Australia.
    I wish I was Down Under too!
    30 odd years ago we looked into it, but we didn't have enough points.
    lardylegs, agathamorse and TEA2111 like this.
  9. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    Note that the first paragraph does nothing for the student, it is all "evidence".
    bessiesmith and agathamorse like this.
  10. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    Lucky you.

    I teach computing also but we do have folders. I have to stop the learning so that we can print out and enter the pages into their folders and then make notes on the paper to show the progress from lesson to lesson. How this is supposed to work I have no idea as most of the time the students print out postage stamp size screen shots for you to "mark" their code.

    I have tried to move away from this wonderful model but we need the "evidence" (on blue paper no less)
    agathamorse likes this.
  11. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    Run that one past me again. Who works hard when one is due, the student or the teacher? If the teacher how is this a demonstration that the marking needs to be done? Many/most countries do not mark "notes", rightly so.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    My point was - the problem isn’t that our books get looked at, it’s that most schools have dreadful marking policies. We’re asked to do pointless things that waste our time. But a degree of scrutiny is important.
  13. Christopher  Curtis

    Christopher Curtis Occasional commenter


    The readiness with which teachers, including head teachers, fall for evidence-free fads is frightening.
    yodaami2 and agathamorse like this.
  14. Christopher  Curtis

    Christopher Curtis Occasional commenter


    I’m sorry about that. Things are far from perfect here, but, in Victoria at least, we do not have the widespread, sheer, unadulterated madness that English schools have, though we do have to fight off moves to bring in some daft ideas from the “home country” every now and again.
    agathamorse likes this.
  15. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    Dear ridleyrumpus,
    I should point out that I am no longer in the UK.

    However, you describe perfectly why I decided to never teach in the UK again.

    Who says you "need" the evidence?

    Pointless nonsense. Your management should be ashamed.
  16. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    I still don't get this you think that the marking policies are dreadful and that we are asked to do pointless things that waste our time but also that it is important that the marking is scrutinised?

    You will go far my son.
    agathamorse and (deleted member) like this.
  17. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    Ahh that is easy SLT insist on the "evidence" but who actually needs or benefits from the "evidence" is never evident.....
    agathamorse likes this.
  18. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    Have you ever asked what the purpose of the evidence is?

    I asked this in my last English school. The answer was a fluffy non-answer. I left that school along with half of the staff that same year. We were taken over by a MAT.

    OFSTED do not ask for this evidence. OFSTED do not ask for proof that progress is made every 20 minutes. OFSTED have no requirement for the pointless data gathering. OFSTED do not ask for any evidence of marking other than evidence of following the school's own marking policy. If the school has a policy of no marking then no marking needs to be evidenced.

    Excessive marking scrutiny is the hallmark of very insecure management.

    I too am puzzled by the comments from SEBREGIS.
    "A degree of scrutiny is important". Utter nonsense.
    TEA2111 and agathamorse like this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    I know, I know, it sounds like SLT doublethink. What I mean is this:

    In an ideal world - scrutiny is important because even the best of us gets sloppy.

    In the real world - scrutiny is a stick to beat us with because we can't actually follow half the marking policies ever seen. Because they are pointless and impossible to follow.

    So - if your school has a reasonable marking policy which does it's job - scrutiny is of benefit. But ONLY then.
    agathamorse and ridleyrumpus like this.
  20. bessiesmith

    bessiesmith Occasional commenter

    But is 'scrutiny' the right word in these days of performance related pay and competency issues?
    I agree that any Head worth their salt should know what is going on in their school and this will naturally involve some observation of students, teachers, lesson products (which will not necessarily be BOOKS in subjects such as Music, PE, Computer Science, DT etc), exam results and similar. The question should always be - 'Are the majority of children doing well in this class?'

    The book scrutiny regime as it currently stands seems to focus on the question - 'Is this teacher following the party line and marking in a way that is consistent with our policies?' This sweeps aside the fact that the teachers are not consistently doing the same job - vastly different numbers and abilities of students, different subjects and different hours of contact with the students for example will greatly affect the type of feedback which is most effective and reasonable to expect a teacher to give. The aim does not appear to focus on ensuring the children are doing well, but rather to exert fear and control over the teaching staff - ultimately threatening to withhold pay rises or even to terminate employment. I am not convinced that any students are well-served by this process.
    agathamorse and ajrowing like this.

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